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Bloodhunt blends Vampire: The Masquerade and battle royale in an unholy union

The Vampire: The Masquerade title teased by developer Sharkmob last year was properly announced at Geoff Keighley’s Summer Game Fest 2021. The game is officially titled Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodhunt, and will be the franchise’s first multiplayer title.

Typically, entries in the Vampire: The Masquerade series are text-heavy, super role-play-oriented RPGs. Bloodhunt is anything but, instead presenting itself as a battle royale title. Armed to the teeth with shotguns, swords, assault rifles, and, well, teeth, players will be able to take each other on to be the last vampire standing. Besides weaponry, players will also be able to use supernatural vampiric powers to take down their foes.

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The game takes place in the city of Prague, where players will fight to the last undead to restore the Masquerade, a code that vampires live by to keep themselves hidden from the outside world. A trailer for the game shows vampires running up walls and jumping across roofs, which means we can expect some liberal freedom of movement. It also seems that the citizens of Prague will come into play, perhaps to give players a boost with some fresh blood.

Naturally, players will also be able to pick which clan their vampire belongs to. Today’s trailer for the game shows vampires from Brujah and Nosferatu fighting openly, so expect to see a wide array of bloodsuckers. Character customization will be available too, letting players dress up their vampires in the latest styles, whether they’re modern-chic or gothic horror.

Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodhunt is set to launch on PC this year. A closed alpha for the game is also on the way, which players can sign up for now on the game’s website.

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Welcome to Digital Trends’ Summer Gaming Marathon
A neon logo for Digital Trends' Summer Gaming Marathon.

Usually, there’s an established rhythm to the video game industry. Fall, for instance, tends to be when publishers release their biggest games to pump up their holiday sales. Summer, on the other hand, has always been about hype thanks in no small part to E3, the Super Bowl of video game showcases. So when the Entertainment Software Association canceled E3 2022, it left a vacuum in the usual hype cycle. Companies were going to have all these exciting games to show, but no spotlight to shine them under. E3 wasn’t going to happen, but the industry wouldn’t just let the summer marketing potential fly by.

As a result, this summer is a lot more chaotic than previous ones. Big reveal streams and press conferences that would usually take place in a tight four-day span have spun out into their own independent events. Summer Games Fest, Microsoft + Bethesda Showcase, Ubisoft Forward, Nintendo Direct, Square Enix Presents … you’re going to need a roadmap to navigate it all.

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With E3 2022 canceled, these are the summer gaming events to watch
E3 logo

We learned this week that 2022 will be the second year since 1995 to not have any kind of E3 expo. While the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) says E3's physical and digital cancelation this year enables it to "devote all our energy and resources to delivering a revitalized physical and digital E3 experience next summer," it also raises questions regarding how game announcements will happen this summer. Companies like Microsoft and Nintendo often tie big reveals to E3, so what is the industry's plan now that E3 2022 is officially canceled?
So far, we only know of a couple of events that will take place, though there's still time for a lot more to be announced. For those wondering how E3 2022's cancelation will impact summer 2022's game reveal landscape, we've broken down everything that is and isn't happening -- and that might happen -- in the coming months. 
What's not happening
E3's absence leaves a crater in the usual gaming hype cycle. Typically, the yearly event took place for a week in Los Angeles and served as a spot where game publishers could announce and advertise their upcoming slates of titles and game-related products. In 2020, the ESA canceled the event due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but it returned digitally in 2021 with mixed results. 

On March 31, the event organizers at the ESA confirmed that there would be no digital or physical E3 event this year. That was quite surprising as more and more in-person events are returning, and the ESA even demonstrated that it could hold the event digitally before. The event may return in 2023, but this year the E3 event that typically consolidates many gaming announcements to one week in June won't play out like normal.
Outside of E3, we also know that EA won't hold its yearly EA Play Live event this summer. Typically, the publisher has its own events outside of E3, but chose not to this year because "this year things aren't lining up to show you everything on one date." That means that if we get new information on titles like the Dead Space remake or the next Dragon Age and Mass Effect, it won't be at an E3-adjacent event. 
What is happening
There are still some major gaming events that will take place this summer. This June, the biggest one is Geoff Keighley's Summer Game Fest. The creator of The Game Awards plans to hold a Summer Game Fest Kickoff Livestream full of new trailers and announcements. Last year's event featured the release date of Elden Ring, so there are certainly high expectations surrounding the showcase, especially as E3 won't be drawing away any reveals. An indie-focused Day of the Devs presentation and other Summer Game Fest-branded events are also expected to take place this June. Keighley tweeted that Summer Game Fest festivities "will be less than one month this year." 
IGN confirmed that its Summer of Gaming event would also take place in June and feature exclusive trailers, gameplay, and interviews. Bethesda has also teased that it will show Starfield this summer, and we're supposed to get another look at Final Fantasy XVI soon.
As for in-person events, a couple of them are happening later in the summer. Gamescom, a European gaming expo equivalent to E3, will happen in person in Cologne, Germany. In Japan, the Tokyo Game Show will be the final big in-person summer event between September 15 and 18. While E3 might not be happening, it's clear that some digital showcases will happen this summer and that events outside of America are still on track to take place in person. 

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Vampire: The Masquerade – Swansong is a true detective game
vampire the masquerade swansong preview

Despite it being a well-explored profession in film, few games do a great job at making the player feel like a detective. Oftentimes, games starring detectives are either too linear and handholding in the decision-making process for players. They tend to fall back on gameplay elements like puzzle-solving or combat instead of deduction-focused scenarios.
Though Vampire: The Masquerade -- Swansong looks underwhelming and doesn’t have great voice acting, the preview build I played successfully made me feel like an expert investigator. People beyond fans of the Vampire: The Masquerade and titles that focus on detective work and investigations will find a lot to enjoy here.
A bloody good detective
Swansong is based on the World of Darkness tabletop game Vampire: The Masquerade, which is about “Kindred” vampires trying to survive while not revealing themselves to humanity. This new game takes place in Boston, where a new Prince has taken charge of the camarilla sect controlling the city, but is being targeted by someone mysterious. Players will ultimately be able to take control of three characters to investigate these attacks and protect the Prince.
Vampire: The Masquerade - Swansong | Gameplay Reveal
My demo saw Galeb Bazory, a 300-year old vampire pretending to be an FBI agent, looking into the death of a banker named Jason Moore. The banker had valuable information on the Primogen Council, a high authority in the vampiric underworld. I had to interview characters and thoroughly investigate the crime scene to find important documents about the Primogen Council.
Players walk around, speak to people, and collect items to gain the necessary information to progress. A unique part of this process is the “dialogue fight” system, which returns from developer Big Bad Wolf’s previous title The Council. Like a tabletop RPG, Swansong allows players to fully spec out their character with various skills that give benefits or additional options in dialogue.
In some confrontations, players will need to use these skills to persuade or intimidate the person they’re talking to like it’s an RPG fight. The main character’s hunger for blood will grow after using these abilities, so players must drink the blood of some victims around the crime scene while keeping up the investigation.
While I didn’t see the effects of this system in the time I played, killing people while satiating a character's hunger meter will have a noticeable impact on the story. It also added a more captivating risk-versus-reward layer to conversations, which helped me immerse myself in roleplaying a detective that only asks all the right questions. As Big Bad Wolf promises that Swansong will have lots of ending permutations, the stakes are high as players uncover information and interrogate suspects and witnesses.
Puzzling it out
Although not all of Swansong’s characters will be investigators by profession, the game’s puzzles achieve that sleuthing fantasy better than its peers. It won’t mark every potential clue players come across, so there are some puzzles that require the player to use their own intuition to solve.

To find a combination to a safe at one point, I had to learn that it was a specific character's birthday via a text message I found on a phone in the victim's bedroom. Then, I had to cross-reference that with a picture taken on that character’s birthday in another room to find the correct code. It was one of the most rewarding puzzles I’ve solved in a game recently.
While Swansong features satisfying investigations, it isn’t free of jank. Gameplay and facial animations look stiff, and voice acting wildly varies in quality. Galeb’s voice is notably lackluster, as the actor behind him comes off as tired and bored rather than stoic. Thankfully, the writing itself is good, so a strong script might be able to save this game from any technical shortcomings.
Though it looks a little rough around the edges, Swansong still holds a ton of promise for fans of Vampire: The Masquerade and narrative adventure titles. Few games have conversations that match the dialogue fights present in Swansong, and the puzzles require the perfect amount of deduction to make the player feel smart. Hopefully, the entire game will continue to fulfill that investigative fantasy.
Vampire: The Masquerade -- Swansong will be released for PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X on May 19, 2022. A Nintendo Switch version is also in development.

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